As imports of illegal fireworks into California increase, fire officials urged Sacramento-area residents Wednesday to only use those certified as “safe and sane” and report “dangerous” fireworks.
“Do not purchase illegal fireworks, ever,” California Deputy State Fire Marshal Jason DeWitt said at a news conference held by the Greater Sacramento Area Fireworks Safety Task Force, a coalition that includes local agencies, fire departments, non-profits and fireworks companies.
Dennis Revell, a spokesman for TNT Fireworks, pointed out that most fires and injuries related to fireworks are caused by the illegal variety, and not those approved by the state. Illegal aerial shells and other flying devices pose a significant fire hazard, potentially allowing sparks to fall onto roofs.
Sacramento Deputy District Attorney Ruanne Dozier noted the “explosive injury power of M-80s” and similar devices.
Penalties for owning illegal fireworks start with five days in county jail. The sanctions increase if the fireworks were actually used, or if child endangerment occurred.
Even “safe and sane” fireworks can pose a hazard if abused, added DeWitt, who spoke at the news conference staged at a fire station in the Arden area. He said that people should set off fireworks far from dry grass or vegetation, and soak used fireworks in water.
Funding from the sale of “safe and sane” fireworks helps support the task force, including increased patrols over the holiday. The Office of the State Fire Marshall has confiscated over 350,000 pounds of illegal fireworks so far this year.